Infocomm sector employing more locals: Lim Swee Say

Singaporeans and PRs are making up over two-thirds of those employed in the infocomm sector, said Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say on July 12, 2017.
Singaporeans and PRs are making up over two-thirds of those employed in the infocomm sector, said Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say on July 12, 2017.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

SINGAPORE - The booming infocomm sector in Singapore is employing more people, with Singaporeans and permanent residents making up over two-thirds of total manpower in the sector.

And efforts are being made to help more of them join and stay in the sector, even as foreign professionals with different skills are hired to build up the country's expertise in this area, said Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say on Wednesday (July 12).

"To be globally competitive, no country can be self-sufficient in expertise, especially in the fast-changing field of infocomm. Singapore is no exception," he said at an event organised by the Singapore Computer Society (SCS).

He cited a study by professional network LinkedIn, which showed that more locals than foreigners had social media, marketing and graphic design skills, while more foreigners than locals had data management and software engineering skills.

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He pledged that his ministry will "strive to minimise substitution and maximise complementarity" through the Fair Consideration Framework - which requires employers to consider Singaporeans first when hiring - so that infocomm businesses and employment can grow in tandem.

Some 13,000 more people were employed in infocomm over the last five years, and the annual employment growth of about 4.1 per cent from 2011 to 2016 is higher than the growth of 2.6 per cent overall.

Mr Lim said it is important to build up the capabilities of workers in the sector, such as in data analytics and cybersecurity, as Singapore pursues its vision of being a Smart Nation.

He added that local workers can make use of the TechSkills Accelerator and professional conversion programmes to get training and jobs in the sector.

The infocomm sector is a "high priority sector" for Singapore's future economy and contributes directly to economic growth as it is innovative and fast changing, and also drives transformation in other sectors, he said.

Job prospects in the sector are also good: about eight in 10 jobs in the sector are for professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs), he added.

The median wage of jobs in the sector is also 30 per cent higher than the national median.

To help PMETs gain essential digital skills, SCS will be launching a training framework in the last quarter of this year.

The Digital Proficiency Programme will provide recognised benchmarks for them to attain, to boost their employment opportunities, said SCS president Howie Lau in a speech.

Mr Lau said that Singapore is well-positioned to be an infocomm and media hub in Southeast Asia as it has the right technology infrastructure and economic landscape.

However, it has been challenging to build a talent pipeline to meet demand. There is already a shortage of data scientists and cybersecurity experts, and people are needed in the growing fields of artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, the Internet of Things, and automated guided vehicles or robots, said Mr Lau.

In the future, knowledge may also be needed to implement technology such as smartdust, which includes tiny sensors; neuromorphic hardware, or chips that mimic human brains; and 4D printing, he said.

At the event, SCS also announced the winners of its Best Tech Company to Work For Award.

The four overall winners were gaming tech company Razer and open source software provider Red Hat, for the large or multinational company category; online marketplace Carousell, for the start-up category; and software developer Titansoft, for the mid-sized or small and medium enterprise category.

The other six rounding up the top-10 companies are: Accenture, EON Reality, IBM, ST Electronics Info-Comm Systems, Tableau and Tinkerbox.

SCS said these top companies had an inspiring culture, spirit of innovation, financial sustainability, and good people management and human resource policy.